Ten male students were arrested in Los Angeles on Friday in connection with sex crimes that began about a year ago and involved two female underage students. All the arrested students, except one, were caught from the campus of Venice High School and authorities are searching for four others, involved in the case, according to media reports.
The investigation into the case began Tuesday after a parent reported the allegations, Los Angeles Times reported. Investigators found a photograph, showing sexual acts by the students while another photo, which was circulated on social media, showed two teenagers engaged in similar acts. Police officials said the investigation was still in its primary stage, according to media reports. The male students were reportedly aged between 14 and 17.
“We didn’t want to leave the suspects out there to potentially victimize other girls at the school,” Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said, according to Los Angeles Times, adding: “The last thing we wanted was to have another victim.”
Eight suspects were arrested from the school's campus, while another one surrendered to the police on Friday, according to the Associated Press (AP). A tenth person was arrested outside the campus and officials are searching for four other.
"I've been part of the school for some time, I haven't heard anything whispered even," Linda Patterson Salib, president of the school's Parent Teacher Student Association until February, said according to the AP, adding: "So this comes as quite a surprise. It's not like, 'Oh we knew there was a problem.'"
The crimes included sexual assault and lewd acts with a minor, and some of the students arrested in the case were members of the school’s football and basketball programs, Los Angeles Times reported. While some of the incidents date back to 2013, most were conducted in the last two months, officials reportedly said.
The school has over 2,000 students and two-thirds of them are Latino, Los Angeles Times reported. The students’ parents have been notified about the incident while crisis counselors were provided on campus for assistance, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines reportedly said.
“We’re pouring all our resources over there today and for the next couple of weeks to make sure every child over there feels safe,” Steve Zimmer, a school board member representing the Westside school, reportedly said, adding: “Our crisis team and our psychiatric social workers are on site ready to provide services to every student who is affected by this, indirectly and directly.”